Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
So, back to that 54-page book you are going to write today with the words that come out of your mouth. One word out of place can do immense damage. ONE WORD.
One burning cigarette, cast aside in the right (or wrong) place, can lead to the burning of tens of thousands of acres. The Chicago fire of 1871 burned 17,000 buildings, killed 300, and left 125,000 homeless and ONE SPARK in Mrs. O’Leary’s barn started it. James’ point is staggering: one slip of the tongue can do enormous damage. “I didn’t really mean that” won’t make it go away. “I shouldn’t have said that” sure sounds nice, but the damage has already been done.
Hopefully, the person who flings the lit cigarette into the forest doesn’t do it with the intent of destroying thousands of acres, but the damage is done nevertheless. Of course, every lit cigarette that is carelessly cast away doesn’t turn into a forest fire… but it certainly has the potential to do so. And so it is with our words.
Remember that the next time you feel like speaking your mind, or putting someone in his or her place, or telling it like it is. Your words can do immense damage, so don’t cast them about carelessly.
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